Short Story: The Scepter of Poultrini
Chuck Wendig issues flash fiction challenges on his blog on Fridays. Last week’s was one where you had to randomly pick two sub-genres and mix them together in a story. I got comic fantasy and technothriller.
The day before, courtesy of Tabletop, I’d discovered the awesome looking rpg Fiasco (I say awesome looking because I haven’t actually gotten to play it yet). I used the Dragon Slayers playset to generate the characters used in this.
I think I did much better at the comic fantasy part than the technothriller, but I tried, and besides, I haven’t read a technothriller in about twenty years.
We were picking through the ogres’ hoard, having already looted their bodies, when Clyde suddenly called out, “Look what I found!”
He had a yard long scepter in his hand, silvery colored with lots of protuberances and a big red gem on top. I’d never seen anything like it. “Clyde, maybe you should give that here,” I said as I reached for it.
“No!” His eyes flashed with anger. “I found it, and I’m going to use it!”
“You don’t even know what it does, lad” Arvanak said, his accent still thick despite how many decades had passed since we’d been kicked — since we’d left our homeland, I mean.
“Neither does Sevenat, but you still would let him have it,” Cissi said snidely, taking her brother’s side as always.
“Lass, Sev has the good sense not to use . . . what’s that sound?” An ominous buzz was now coming from the scepter.
Clyde smiled. “I think I’ve figured this thing out.” A blast of bright red something arced through the air as he swung the scepter, narrowly missing my head.
“All right. Enough playing around.” I again reached out to take it from him. He pushed and twisted and pulled on various bits and suddenly the gem at the top had turned bright green. A green glowing halo slowly formed around it.
Arvanak and I looked at each other. It couldn’t be, could it? We both ran for him, trying to tackle him and grab the dreaded device before he could blast anyone with it.
The blast caught is in the air. After a moment of horrendous pain I was much, much smaller and covered in yellow and green feathers. When I tried to speak, all that came out was a squawk. I looked around for Arvanak and finally found him, a purple and green chicken pecking at Clyde’s legs.
“Oh no oh no oh no!” Clyde panicked. “That wasn’t supposed to happen! I thought this was . . . a red gem that turns green when you use the right combination, that’s the Scepter of Carraxi, right? You two should’ve . . . you’re not supposed to be chickens!”
If I ever returned to being a dwarf, the adventuring company would be looking for a new wizard, that was for sure. I didn’t want someone beside me in a fight who’d tried to use a weapon like that on me. I was a bit glad he’d, hell, we’d because I’d thought it was nasty old Carraxi’s scepter too, been wrong. Being a chicken was inconvenient, but fixing that was just a matter of finding a competent wizard. Being an automaton forever bound to Clyde’s whim, with no known cure, would’ve been much worse.
Cissi smiled evilly. “Well, brother, looks like all of this loot is ours now. Throw the chickens in a bag — they should make a good dinner — and let’s gather as much as we can carry and get out of here.”
I’m sure that would’ve been the end of Arvanak and me if Clyde and Cissi hadn’t been stupid enough to use the damned scepter in town. Two annoying people turned into chickens and one blasted to gods’ only know where by that red ray later, they were in jail and the local wizard had a sleepless night de-chickening four people.
He’s my company’s wizard now. He’s good with polymorph spells, which comes in more handy than you would think, especially about two years later when we did find Carraxi’s scepter and there were all these . . . you know what? That’s another story for another day.